Iconic Bluegrass Pioneer Ralph Stanley, Carter’s Brother & Leader Of The Clinch Mountain Boys, Dies At Age 89

Dr. Ralph Stanley

Dr. Ralph Stanley, 1927-2016.

Ralph Stanley receives an honorary doctorate degree from Yale University.

Ralph Stanley receives an honorary doctorate degree from Yale University.

Iconic bluegrass pioneer Ralph Stanley, the quiet, shy half of The Stanley Brothers who, following the sudden 1966 loss of his brother Carter persevered to achieve international fame, died on June 23, 2016 at age 89.

Following his brother’s death, he led Ralph Stanley & The Clinch Mountain Boys until a week before his passing, when he announced that he was giving the band to his son and performing partner Ralph Stanley II.

Banjo player and singer Stanley was revered as the senior surviving performer of the first generation of bluegrass musicians. His career spanned over seven decades, not even ending with his long-announced “retirement” at the end of 2014.

Ralph Stanley in a recent Mountain View, CA performance.

Ralph Stanley in a recent Mountain View, CA performance.

Although The Stanley Brothers were famously overlooked by the Country Music Hall Of Fame, Ralph Stanley was an early admittee to the International Bluegrass Hall Of Honor (now the International Bluegrass Hall Of Fame). He also held the most utilized Honorary Doctorate ever granted. The honor was bestowed in 1976 by Lincoln Memorial University, and added to his formal education that ended after only a few years in elementary school. For the remainder of his life, he was known and formally addressed by all true bluegrass fans as Dr. Ralph Stanley. Stanley was honored with a second Honorary Doctorate from Yale University in 2014, along with many other honors.

Onstage, Dr. Stanley was low-key, earnest, and sincere. He spoke slowly and carefully, always commanding the respect and attention of his fans between songs. The thrill for his listeners came from his banjo and his signature high lonesome vocals. His vocals cried and soared with the terrible pain of his lyrics. His most famous performance for the general public came in the Hollywood film Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?, when he sang the old tune Oh, Death. His other big hit, the banjo instrumental The Clinch Mountain Backstep, was best known to hard-core bluegrass fans. Along the way, he popularized Man Of Constant Sorrow and Rank Stranger, among many other bluegrass standards.

oh-brother-where-art-thou-cd-coverRalph Stanley did not come easily into the bluegrass fold. For many years, he called his music “mountain music,” and strongly resisted having his music grouped with that of other bluegrass pioneers. In his later years, he changed course and fully embraced his critical role in having established and popularized the bluegrass genre.

Perhaps more than any of the other bluegrass creators, he rejected off-mountain musical influences, and played his music clear, clean, straight, simple, and unadorned. In important ways, his music was significantly more “hard-core” than other famous progenitors of the bluegrass style, including the Father Of Bluegrass Music Bill Monroe.

Dr. Ralph first performed in church and, with his brother, enjoyed a long pre-fame run on radio stations WNVA and WCYB (”The Farm And Fun Hour” at noon each weekday) along the Tennessee/Virginia border. These 1950s programs established the band and led it to national stature.

Ralph Edmund Stanley was born February 25, 1927 in the rural community of Big Spraddle Creek, Dickenson County, Virginia. He is survived by his wife Jimmi Stanley and his children, Lisa Stanley Marshall, Tonya Armes Stanley and Ralph Stanley II.

Ralph & Carter, The Stanley Brothers.

Ralph & Carter, The Stanley Brothers.

The Stoney Mountain Ramblers Set For Mountaintop Bluegrass On Thursday June 23

ncbs-plain-logoThe FREE Summit House Thursday Bluegrass Series, presented by the Summit House Beer Garden & Grill and welcomed by the Northern California Bluegrass Society, continues with the Stoney Mountain Ramblers on June 23.

The establishment serves up an incredible view of the sunset over the Santa Cruz Mountains, fine food, and good drink.

The series (which started at the beginning of January) will conclude its first 6 months on June 30 with the band Hidden Still. Thanks for your support!

summit-house-logo-thinThe bluegrass programs are held each Thursday evening 6:00-8:30pm at the top of Highway 17, 6 miles south of Los Gatos.

The Stoney Mountain Ramblers

The Stoney Mountain Ramblers

San Benito County Historical Society To Host August 11-14 NCBS Good Old Fashioned Bluegrass Festival

san-benito-county-historical-society-logo-building-trees-illusThe San Benito County Historical Society will host the August 11-14, 2016 Northern California Bluegrass Society Good Old Fashioned Bluegrass Festival at the San Benito County Historical Park in Tres Pinos, 7 miles south of Hollister.

ncbs-plain-logoThe 23-year-old gathering has previously been held next door at Bolado Park and is a benefit for the NCBS.

The Cottage Saloon, San Benito County Historical Park, Tres Pinos.

The Cottage Saloon, San Benito County Historical Park, Tres Pinos.

The view of the hills from the Historical Village Plaza.

The view of the hills from the Historical Village Plaza.

NCBS Welcomes July 10 Bluegrass Festival At Sonoma State University With Jeff Austin Band

Jeff Austin

Jeff Austin

Weill Hall & Lawn, Sonoma State University

Weill Hall & Lawn, Sonoma State University

Mandolinist Jeff Austin will perform at the second annual Green Music Center Bluegrass Festival at Weill Hall & Lawn on the campus of Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park.

The David Grisman Bluegrass Experience & The Sam Bush Band are also on the mandolin-centric program.

The Sunday, July 10 festival is welcomed by the Northern California Bluegrass Society.

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Looking Ahead To The July Festivals In Northern California & Beyond

NCBS welcomes the SSU Green Music Center Bluegrass Festival.

NCBS welcomes the SSU Green Music Center Bluegrass Festival.

NCBS welcomes the Foggy Mountain Bluegrass Festival.

NCBS welcomes the Foggy Mountain Bluegrass Festival.

The July 2015 festival schedule in Northern California is the strongest in years. Time for some mid-summer bluegrass fun! Northern California Bluegrass Society Members will be everywhere this month and you are welcome to join in!

Here are the July festivals:

JULY

June 30-July 3 — High Sierra Music Festival, Plumas County Fairgrounds, Quincy.

1-4 – San Francisco Folk Music Club July 4 Campout,  Boulder Creek Boy Scout Reservation, Boulder Creek.

Sonoma Mtn Music Fest 2016 Poster Final

High Sierra Music Festival

High Sierra Music Festival

2 — Sonoma Mountain Music Celebration, Five Springs Farm, Petaluma.

4 – All American Music Festival, Murphy’s Irish Pub, Sonoma.

4 – City of El Cerrito & worldOne 4th of July Festival, Cerrito Vista Park, El Cerrito.

4 – Genoa Americana Celebration, Mormon Station State Park, Genoa, NV.

8-9 – Yosemite Music Festival, Mariposa County Fairgrounds, Mariposa.

9 — Shasta String Summit, Kenneth Ford Theatre, College of the Siskiyous, Weed.

The Redwood Ramble

The Redwood Ramble

10 — Green Music Center Bluegrass Festival, Weill Hall & Lawn, Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park. (NCBS welcomed)

14-17 – Redwood Ramble, Camp Navarro, Navarro. (Sold out)

California WorldFest

California WorldFest

14-17 – California Worldfest, Nevada County Fairgrounds, Grass Valley.

14-17 — Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, Walsh Farm, Oak Hill, NY.

16 – Shasta String Celebration, Freight & Salvage, Berkeley.

16 — Bluegrass In The Valley, The Guitar Merchant, Canoga Park.

23 — Summer Mountain Music & Arts Festival, Cedar Crest Vineyards, Manton.

24 — Foggy Mountain Bluegrass Festival, The Surf Spot, Pacifica. (NCBS welcomed)

29-31 – Rockygrass, Planet Bluegrass Ranch, Lyons, CO.

31 – Napa Porchfest, various front porches, Napa.

Coming In August: The 23rd Annual NCBS Good Old Fashioned Bluegrass Festival.

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Candidates On Ballot For NCBS Board Of Directors Election August 13

Board of Directors

Board of Directors

The following candidates have filed to be on the ballot for the NCBS Board Of Directors Election on August 13, 2016 at the Good Old Fashioned Bluegrass Festival and by mail:

Bruce Bellochio, Eric Burman, Bruce Edmundson, Mike Fisher, Penny Godlis, Michael Hall, & Mike Russell.

Five Week Reminder: July 22 Is Cheap Ticket Deadline For Good Old Fashioned Bluegrass Festival Tickets

Five Week Reminder: Discount Advance Tickets for the August 11-14 Good Old Fashioned Bluegrass Festival are on sale through July 22, 2016.

Online GOF Tickets

Sam Bush Set For NCBS-Welcomed Green Music Center Bluegrass Festival July 10 At SSU

Weill Hall, Green Music Center

Weill Hall, Green Music Center

Green Music Center Bluegrass Festival

Green Music Center Bluegrass Festival

Mandolin master Sam Bush will perform at the Green Music Center Bluegrass Festival on the campus of Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park on Sunday, July 10.

The David Grisman Bluegrass Experience & The Jeff Austin Band are also on the afternoon bill.

The NCBS-welcomed festival will be held at Weill Hall & Lawn, the new indoor/outdoor on-campus venue.

Sam Bush

Sam Bush